Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas go 4-0-0 for U.S. Team
Longtime friends stake United States to 11-7 advantage into Sunday Singles at Presidents Cup
September 24, 2022
By Kevin Prise , PGATOUR.COM
- September 24, 2022
- Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas paired for the first four sessions at Quail Hollow Club and went undefeated. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Davis Love III remembers Jordan Spieth “bopping into the team room” at the 2013 Presidents Cup, sporting a T-shirt and shorts, and quickly turning his attention to ping pong.
Love’s wife Robin was unfamiliar with the precocious Spieth, just 20 years old at the time.
“Robin said, ‘Who is that kid?’” Love recalled this week. “I go, ‘That’s the future of our team right there.’”
He was right. Spieth has yet to turn 30 but is the most-experienced member of this year’s U.S. Presidents Cup team and his partnership with childhood friend Justin Thomas, already successful before this year, has now become historic. Spieth and Thomas won all four of their matches this week, becoming the first American pair since Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in 2009 to go 4-0-0 (and just the third overall).
On Saturday, Spieth and Thomas beat Sungjae Im and Corey Conners in morning Foursomes, 4 and 3, before a Spieth chip-in ended their match with Hideki Matsuyama and Taylor Pendrith by the same 4-and-3 margin.
“I rode my horse today for sure, and I feel like it's just one of those things where if one's off, the other one's on and vice versa,” Thomas said. “Man, it's a great quality, and I really hope we keep it up because it doesn't get any more fun than this out here.”
As the International Team rallied for victories in Saturday’s final three matches to claw within 11-7 entering Sunday Singles, it was the U.S. Team’s cornerstone duo that provided the crucial point to avoid being shut out in afternoon Four-ball and keep a significant cushion. The International Team would need its best Singles performance in this tournament’s history just to tie the Americans. No team has ever scored 8.5 points in Singles, the amount needed for the U.S. to win outright.
Thomas hit it within 5 feet on the 15th hole in their afternoon match – the same hole that is used as the Wells Fargo Championship’s closing hole – before Spieth chipped in for a birdie that the International’s had an opportunity to match. Taylor Pendrith missed an 8-footer that would have extended the match, however.
“I was thinking Justin's got birdie, but I may as well try and not wait for him. It's straight up the hill,” Spieth said. “That hole location where I was is about the easiest spot if you're going to miss the green. I just came out right on line and went in with a little speed, but with the pin out, it went right in the middle. … I thought we were going to need a birdie just to go to the next hole.”
Thomas and Spieth have been friends long enough, and so successful as a team, that no one is concerned with stealing the spotlight. After Pendrith’s putt lipped out, a beaming Thomas motioned his hands in Spieth’s direction, encouraging the crowd to shower Spieth with applause.
On the youngest U.S. Team in Presidents Cup history, the 29-year-olds Spieth and Thomas are unquestioned veterans. Spieth now holds a career 12-5-1 record in Presidents Cup competition, with Thomas now 10-2-2.
They carry respect, and they back it up.
“I think there are certain guys on the team who have played a lot in these team events,” said world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler early in the week. “I look at Jordan and JT as those guys. They’re the longest tenured … there are certain guys where their voice holds a lot of weight.”
A 𝙙𝙤𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙖𝙣𝙩 week at Quail Hollow.@JordanSpieth and @JustinThomas34 are the third duo in Presidents Cup history to go undefeated in the first four rounds.#PresidentsCup || #USTeam pic.twitter.com/QMGFOe8zGx— Presidents Cup (@PresidentsCup) September 24, 2022
Spieth and Thomas relish the leadership role and the pairing. Following Friday’s Four-ball victory against Adam Scott and Cam Davis, Thomas was asked how he handles Spieth’s trademark brand of scrambling golf. A troublesome spot akin to an 18-handicapper leads to recovery theatrics and a head scratch. Time and again.
On Thursday, Spieth hooked a drive on 15 that landed in the creek running alongside the fairway and inexplicably bounced out; the duo won the hole with a par.
The next day, Spieth’s approach on 15 bounced off rocks in the creek and caromed into light rough over the green. He saved par and tied the hole.
“That was nothing,” Thomas quipped Friday evening. “It’s not even, like, remotely close to some Jordan Spieth golf I’ve seen before. Anything and everything he does on the golf course does not surprise me. I’ve seen crazier, that’s for sure.”
The end of Saturday’s match is yet another example.
Jordan Spieth's chip-in from greenside rough wins the match at Presidents Cup